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How to deal with road rage

You’re driving along calmly when suddenly another driver does something annoying, rude or just plain dangerous. You fume. You shout. If things get a little out of hand, you make a rude gesture. We’ve all either been annoyed drivers, or passengers in a car with an annoyed driver. Getting angry behind the wheel is really not the best way to deal with it but how do we stop ourselves losing it?

1. Consider the pudding

One of the team tells the story of how their mum once drove really slowly because she had a sloppy pudding on the back seat. Yes, sometimes drivers are just idiots. But sometimes they have a ‘pudding’ – the unseen reason they’re driving that way. Someone roars past you when they shouldn’t? Maybe their wife is giving birth and they’re on their way. Someone tailgates you? Maybe their child has been hurt and they’re trying to get there quickly. There are all sorts of reasons why someone might drive badly. Think about what their pudding could be and give them the benefit of the doubt.

2. Think of the last time you made a mistake

Most of us conveniently forget our past messy driving whenever someone does something to annoy us. Instead of getting frustrated, think about the last time you got it wrong. We’ve all ended up in the wrong lane and had to cut in. And roundabouts? Nobody gets them right all the time. Sometimes the person you’re furious with isn’t a bad driver, they’ve just made a bad judgement call. Accept that you’ve also made mistakes and respond the way you’d want someone to respond to you.

3. Remember getting angry sucks for you too

If you get furious, as unpleasant as it is for everyone else, you’re just ruining your own day. Remember your emotions aren’t meant to control you – it should be the other way around. Getting furious leaves a dark cloud hanging over us and a bad taste in the mouth. That other guy is likely to just get on with their day. By letting anger take control, the person you’re most punishing is yourself. Instead choose to let it go rather than robbing yourself of joy.

4. Don’t hoot, gesture, glare or anything else

So they’ve been rude. That doesn’t mean you should be too. In fact, by responding you’re likely to get even angrier and aggravate the situation. Things can escalate pretty quickly from shouting to violence. You’re asking for trouble for yourself (whether you’re being beaten up or doing the beating up). Aside from that any nasty response at all can leave someone feeling upset when they’ve just made an honest mistake.

5. Don’t forget the consequences

One of the team was once nearly hit by a car which was trying to knock over a motorbike. Before you do react, don’t forget that someone else’s driving annoying you isn’t going to make much of an excuse if you hurt or even kill someone. If you start driving badly to get them back, you’re putting yourself and other road users at risk. Even hooting leaves other people shaken, not just the one you’re targeting.

Let’s all just chill out. It’ll make the road a nicer place for everyone – including us. 

 

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